Achievements

Watch ‘Aankh Micholi’, an evocative short-film on child abuse

The director of the film, Debadrita Bhowmick, an alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication (AIMC), New Delhi, said the frequency of all types of child abuse — physical, emotional and sexual — is more than what we choose to acknowledge.

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According to UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) India, both girls and boys in the country face early marriage, domestic abuse, sexual violence, violence at home and in school, trafficking, online violence, child labour and bullying. Such abuse can leave the child with serious, long-lasting psychological damage. The short film by the 8 students of AIMC for UNICEF and Lok Samvad Sansthan, an NGO based Jaipur, is an attempt to remind the viewers of this disturbing aspect of our day-to-day lives.

Debadrita, who helmed the film, completed her diploma in Advertising & Marketing Communication from AIMC and is interning with Shree Venkatesh Films, a media and entertainment company based in Kolkata. The 23-year-old was in the directorial team of ‘EkChakra’, a Bangla film streaming on ZEE5 and worked as an Assistant director for a music video which featured poet/rapper, Santhanam Srinivasan Iyer, mostly known as EPR Iyer. In an informal chat, Debadrita shares her journey, the need to spread child abuse prevention awareness, how to make short-films, and more…

Debadrita Bhowmick

How did you get interested in movie making?

I came from West Bengal and the state is renowned for its culture and heritage; this extends even to its cinema. The history of the cinema in Bengal is very old, it’s a part of our everyday culture. I am also hugely inspired by filmmakers Satyajit Ray, the first Indian to win an honorary Oscar in 1992 and Mrinal Sen. That’s why, I always had an inclination to go into filmmaking. Being in direction gives you the control to narrate stories from your perspective.

Why did you make a film on child abuse?  

Child abuse is a more common reality in India than we choose to acknowledge. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, 109 children in India face some form of child sexual abuse every day. Children are exposed to countless other forms of physical, verbal and emotional violence and abuse. Also, heinous crimes against children are often reported less due to the fear of family reputation and social stigma. I wanted to do my bit to raise awareness, and importantly, make people vocal about child abuse.

Can child abuse be solved by enacting stringent laws?

Absolutely not. Despite strict laws against child abuse in India, many are still victims of the crime. I believe it’s more of a social problem. The message of my film is that we as a society have to come together for the safety of our children. As I said earlier, it’s important to be vocal about the issue and report the crimes without fail. Parents must also make their kids aware of the difference between good touch and bad touch. I believe children should be groomed in a way that they don’t hesitate to report any unfortunate incident. 

Can one make a short film alone?

Of course. Iranian film director, Jafar Panahi, made a critically acclaimed documentary called ‘This Is Not a Film’. Partly shot on an iPhone, it depicts Panahi’s life during his house arrest in Iran. It was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The point is you can make great movies alone, but obviously, you will need a big team if you want to make a feature film like Sooryavanshi.

Share some tips to make an engaging short-film.

I remember Prof. Pijush Dutta, Programme Director and Associate Professor, AIMC and our Mentor telling us that the average attention span of human beings is 7 seconds, so to keep audiences’ attention is not easy. You have to be on the point and the message has to be clear. Don’t try to convey too many themes or messages. Also, short films do not need to stick rigidly to the “right order”. You can start your story at the end and you can flashback or flash forward as well.

What are your future plans?

I want to direct a feature film. It’s a long way to go, but I am up for the challenge. I don’t have a second option.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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